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Heroes Hockey Game

This past Sunday, 3/11/12, was the 7th Annual Salute To Heroes Game put on with the Charlotte Checkers. Every year they have a Checkers game, followed by a second hockey game that consists of two combination “heroes” teams.

The purpose of the evening is to honor those who serve, have served and have been injured or lost in the line of duty. Proceeds from the evening benefit families of fallen and injured public service workers as well as families from the military in the Carolinas through the Military Family Lifestyle Charitable Foundation (MFLCF).

In the right corner, we have the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department joining forces with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Department.

And in the left corner, we have the Charlotte Fire Department joining forces with MEDIC (Charlotte-area paramedics).

So the guns versus the ladders, the red versus the blue, the 5-0 versus the Jakes, the hot boys versus the boys in blue, the hoses versus the po-po, the… Okay, okay, fine, I’ll stop now — but mostly because I’m running out of puns, not because of your groans at them! 😉

Moving along, we got to see the Charlotte Checkers regain 1st place in the division with a fantastic 4-0 domination over the Chicago Wolves in a fast-paced, 3 period, high-energy hockey game. A few scrums, a few chants, and a few bad calls – this was a typical hockey game and a GREAT shutout win (Checkers’ first home shutout this season) for goalie Mike Murphy, who was spot-on all game. The only downside of this game was the knee injury (likely season-ending) of forward enforcer Justin Soryal. He was luckily able to get up with help, so hopefully he will recuperate and be able to play soon. Aside from that, this game was just plain fun to watch!

Then we get to the main event (well okay, if you’re going to Heroes Night for the Heroes, at least!)… the non-professional, service personnel game. CFD/MEDIC vs CMPD/MCSO. CFD/MEDIC are the defending champs going into this game, with a series win record of 4-2.

The game starts off with a presentation of the Fire Department’s Drums & Bagpipe Band. They did 4 songs, one of which was like a drumline exhibition (which was really cool), and finished with an Amazing Grace-esque song that was just plain moving. Once that completed, the National Anthem was performed by one of MEDIC’s own members, a very beautiful rendition that everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Then the starting line-ups were announced, with a few big-screen snafus, and the puck dropped to start the game!

Firefighter Drums & Bagpipe Band

Keep in mind that these are not professional hockey players, the refs are not AHL refs, and these guys are literally playing hockey and training in their spare time from their day jobs of keeping our communities safe. That said, this was probably the most exciting Heroes Game I’ve seen (which includes all but the inaugural Heroes game).

First period had some scoreboard mishaps, which included awarding a goal to PD team that they apparently didn’t score. Then the period finished out with the Fire Department scoring (for real) and a weird 1-1, then 0-0, and finally 0-1 score being updated. It was pretty confusing (dizzy bats!) to watch, so I just closed my eyes at one point and let it ride! But 1st period finished with Fire leading 1-0.

Second period saw the PD scoring to tie the game up, and getting a few minor scrums going to truly get out all that energy, haha. The game was very back and forth with lots of shots taken, both at the net and at each other, and only a couple penalties being called for either side. Mostly for slashing and roughing, which I personally found wonderfully ironic. Period ended with a 1-1 tie.

Heroes Game In Action!

Third period saw the PD getting awarded a penalty shot, which was successfully made. And a quite pretty shot it was, I must say, for a non-pro hockey player! So then we’re hearing the fans start chanting (okay, Fire fans VASTLY outnumbered Police fans) “LET’S GO FIRE!” and so on… It was a very entertaining audience, as most of the fans watching know at least one of the guys playing, and so are shouting out various comments that you can see the players trying to ignore and not laugh about. It was highly entertaining.

Then we get to 10 seconds left in the game, Police think they have it with their 2-1 lead. The puck goes to the Fire team, and 2 seconds later, with EIGHT SECONDS on the clock, the Fire Department scores to tie the game up! HOLY SMOKES! 😉

Now onto the five minute, sudden death, 4-on-4 overtime. This is my favorite kind of hockey – 4-on-4, all out there, one-shot ends it hockey… WOOO! My brother loves shootouts, so he was sad they stayed true to regular rules and did OT. So I snickered at him, as a big sister considering it my sworn duty, and hankered down to enjoy the OT period. Lots of good chances, but good netminding on both sides kept the game from being decided.

Then we went to a 5-player shootout, so my brother ended up being ecstatic, and elbowed me like a typical little brother… **sigh** First set of guys were both denied by the goalies, second set of guys were both denied by the goalies. Then Fire were denied but the Police scored, leading the shootout 1-0 in the 3rd round. Fourth round comes, and both goalies keep the denials going. Fifth round sees the Fire goalie block the Police shot. Now it is literally up to the Fire shooter and the Police goalie – all on them. If the Fire guy scores, it goes to a 6th round, but if the Police goalie denies it, the Police win. He gets the whistle, skates up the left side, does a deke, shoots——and the shot is BLOCKED.

Police win the shootout 1-0, and leaving the game as the new champions with a final score of 3-2! Now the series is 4-3 with Fire/Medic leading overall by just 1 game. What will next year bring? A tie for the series? A bigger lead by the Fire/Medic? Hmmm… Keep your eyes peeled for next March for the 8th Annual Salute To Heroes Game hosted by the Charlotte Checkers!

In the meantime, if you feel like helping out, the following are links to charities to support these Heroes:
Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Foundation
The Thin Blue Line Run
Military Family LifeStyle Charitable Foundation, Inc. (MFLCF)

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